There are many acronyms in military life. Some are serious like PCS (permanent change of station) or not so serious like, BCG’s (birth control glasses). The list goes on and on.
Any spouse, seasoned, dating, or just married spouse knows how confusing this life can be. Many spouses (myself included) throw themselves into this life. We try to learn all the acronyms, attend all the events, and make friends with everyone in our community.
Military life can be all encompassing if we let it.
Becoming consumed in the military life happens for a few reasons: we love our spouse, and country and want to show our support. It’s also hard to escape! Our lives are often dictated by the military.
Maintaining a sense of self and purpose is vital to thriving as a MilSO. Knowing who we are personally and professionally is a great way to remain grounded and sane in this life.
Listed below are a few ways to maintain your sense of self while being a spouse.
Create a personal mission/purpose statement for your life: A mission statement doesn’t have to be too long. To start writing one, ask yourself these questions:
What are my best character qualities? Where do I want to direct my time? Why?
Make friends outside the military: This one is a great way to create another community for yourself. Having military spouse friendships is wonderful, but diversity in friendships can be great as well. Each relationship/friend in your life serves a different purpose.
Volunteer Locally: This has been a game changer for me. I live in Norfolk and started volunteering pretty quickly. I used the website Idealist.org to find opportunities, but there are many different sites to check out. It was hard at first but turned out to be a great way to meet new people.
Find your tribe: There are over 500,000 spouses out there! Not everyone will be your cup of tea. I learned this the hard way. I tried to become friends with people I didn’t relate to. I found myself trying to change to fit in (hello high school?!) Finding new friends is a lot like dating. It takes a lot of time and effort. It’s sometimes awkward, but so rewarding when you find the right friend.
Keep Civilian Friends: We all have civilian friends from childhood, high school or college. Maintaining those friendships is so important. Moving doesn’t mean you have to let go of your civilian friends. It may take more work to keep the friendship, but it’s so worth it. These friends can be great reminders of your roots and and your pre-military life.
Military Events: There as SO many events to attend as a MilSO. Re-enlistment ceremonies, diaper parties, command barbecues just to name a few. It’s completely ridiculous to show up to every single event. It’s OK to say no. It doesn’t make you a “bad” spouse. It just means you are aware of your needs and desires.
Conversation: During some of these events, conversations can include things you know nothing about. Your spouse may become engrossed in all things military. It’s understandable. He’s surrounded by his military buddies, and they have at least one big thing in common.
I have started changing the course of the conversation by asking people open ended questions like, “Where are you from”, “What books are you currently reading?” “Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever traveled?” etc.
Hobbies: I know many spouses who’ve turned their hobbies into lucrative businesses. I’ve seen everything from bath and body products to photography to cake making. Every time I discover a new MilSO owned business I am blown away by how creative and driven our community is.
If you enjoy hearing and learning about other spouse’s passions and businesses, check out the "opened" MilSO Boxes on the "One Time Products" page above. Each month MilSO box picks a theme and finds military spouse or veteran-owned small businesses to feature in that month’s box.
For example, the “Happy Trails” box included a custom postcard from Jordyn Alison Designs, a toiletry bag from The Nomadic Nation Shop, a passport cover from Shel Sew, an essential oil roll-on to ease travel discomfort from the Mindful Engineer, Trail Mix from Veteran-owned Kre8tiv Gifts and a MilSO Travel Challenge card set created by MilSO Box founder, Lindsay Hinger.
Follow MilSO Box's social media to see how these featured suppliers maintained their own identity by becoming business owners.